10-Step Email Marketing Checklist

Some say that social media is taking over the marketing game, but that’s not totally true.

In reality, the average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. People are generally more open to receiving promotional content from a brand they have already subscribed to, rather than seeing a ton of advertisements on their social feed that they have little to no interest in.

Email marketing is popular for a reason, especially when the whole goal of marketing is to create a bigger impact, with the least amount of marketing dollars spent. Email marketing has an ROI of 3800%, approximately $38 return for every $1 spent. It’s also a great way to acquire new customers, or sell to your existing customers.

Email is becoming an absolute necessity for B2B agencies that want to connect with new clients, offer new products, and ultimately boost ROI. Let’s start by going through our Best Practice Checklist so you can create successful email campaigns everytime!

#1 Email Lists

Existing Customers

Start by building your email list from information stored about your existing customers. These are the people that have already shown high interest in your products/services and are already familiar with your company. Your existing customers are going to trust you the most and be more open to promotional email content and new products.

Customer Acquisition

Creating lists from existing customers is the easy part, the next task is customer acquisition. This means building a new list of clients that you want to reach out to. To do this you need to:

  1. Provide value
  2. Have an easy sign-up/subscribe process
  3. Have an appealing call-to-action

Providing value can mean offering a sign-up discount, free content guides, free shipping, and many more incentives. Your sign-up opportunity may simply be a spot on your website, where prospects can type in their email, that says “Join our email list so you don’t miss any updates!”— and that will encourage them to sign-up.


#2  Subject Lines

Subject lines are the window to your content. It’s about balance, you want to create a curiosity gap, while at the same time avoid being click-bait. Keep in mind that lots of people can detect click-bait subject lines that are way too good to be true—and your open rate will suffer.

You never want to mislead your readers, but you also don’t want to give away all the value of your content in the subject line. Include enough information to strike interest, and once they click on, they’ll get the answer to the question.

Keep an eye on your open rates and click-through rates— these are your proof of performance for your subject lines.


If you don’t know much about creating great subject lines, we’d recommend doing A/B testing.

A/B testing allows you to send two variations of the same campaign, by changing one aspect of one of your emails. For example, you could test two different subject lines. Doing this allows you to send version A to one sample group, and version B to another sample group, and track which email performs best. A/B testing can help you to determine what aspect of your campaign is causing low open rates or low click-through rates.


If you still can’t come up with a great subject line, take a look at subject lines used in the past with high open-rates—that’s sure to give you some guidance in writing your own.

#3 Lingo & Language

Your clients are smart, and their email spam filters are even smarter. Both can detect when an email is trying to sell them something, and the best way to avoid this is by changing your language. You want to be crafting emails ensuring that you are providing genuine value to your potential clients.

Consider using more casual language that the majority of your audience will understand, and excluding bigger terms and complicated jargon that not everyone can easily grasp. You’ll want your email to be easy to understand and grab the attention of the prospect—that won’t happen if they do not understand what you’re telling them.

Note: There are some words that are unavoidable depending on the products you’re offering, but try your best to stray away from sounding too sales-y.

#4 Length

Remember that most people don’t like reading emails, and that keeping emails short and concise will be wise in getting your point across. Your audience doesn’t want to be reading long emails when they could be working on growing their business.

You know the saying “less is more”? Well it applies. It’s wise to keep your emails under 200 words—usually around 50-125 is best, or somewhere around 20 lines of text.

TIP: Keep in mind that a large portion of your audience are using their smartphones to open and answer your emails. Even though your emails may look short on your desktop, they can appear very lengthy if someone is opening it on their mobile device. Consider this when deciding on your perfect email length for your specific audience!


#5 Your Call-to-Action

Your call-to-action can be a number of things from simple subscribe opportunities to a value-added approach.

This is where the Snapshot Report  comes in handy. We recommend sending a free Snapshot Report of your prospects online business, demonstrating the value that you can provide for them. Analyze your audience and choose your call-to-action based on what your audience sees as valuable.

Consider other options like a free-sign up link, product upgrades, new products, new deals, or free content guides.

TIP: Ensure you’re making it easy for them to convert. A big part of this is making your emails mobile-friendly, as there are many clients opening your emails on their phone.


#6 Images

Images follow the same rules as text— don’t have too many. Including images is a good way to break up big chunks of text.

Studies show that three days after seeing a piece of content, a person will remember 65% of the visual content, but only 10% of the text. Images help to express what you’re trying to say in words, and create a visual in the minds of your audience. As a guideline, try using a 60/40 text-to-image ratio.

#7 Personalization

Where old-fashioned promotional ads don’t always catch the attention of your audience, personalization will. Knowing that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history, is a huge indicator that you should be sending personalized emails.

This can be as simple as putting your prospect’s name in the subject line:

“Hey _____, We have your social media report for you.”

Personalization will make your clients feel like you care, and you can demonstrate this by recommending new products to them based on the products/services they already sell, or recommending content to them based on their interests.

#8 Frequency & Quantity

If you’re sending 80,000 emails at once, you’re doing something wrong.

Studies show that 57% of people say getting too many emails from a sender will cause them to mark the content as spam. It’s best to send emails in smaller waves.

It’s the same idea with frequency, you don’t want to be flooding your clients inbox with too many emails over a short period of time, or it may cause them to unsubscribe. Ensure you are only sending them emails that relate to them or will be of interest to them (whether that is promotional emails, content guides, new products, etc.), and that should help you determine which frequency is best.  

As a guideline, if you are sending product adoption or product upsell campaigns, you can be sending around three emails/week, but if you are sending customer acquisition campaigns, try and stick to only one email/week.

#9 Avoid Being Spam-y

If you’re having trouble with your emails always being marked as spam, it could be any number of things. However, spam usually falls into one of two areas: either the email domains are recognizing you as spam, or, your audience is sending your emails to their spam folder.

There are a few guidelines regarding the content of your email that will reduce your chances of being marked as spam.


Subject line wording

When your audience reads your subject line, they create a picture of what the content of the email will entail. Where the issue arises is when your content doesn’t match what the audience believed it would. Your audience will see that as a deceptive subject line, and likely mark you as spam, or even unsubscribe if they are really annoyed.

Too much colored text

Avoid using too much colored text as it’s a signal to spam filters of potential spam.

Over-use of caps lock

Caps lock is in the same category as colored text, it’s often used to make content stand out and grab the attention of the audience, hopefully persuading them to open it. If you have quality valuable content, you won’t need to use caps lock to grab their attention.

Exclamation points

Avoid too many exclamation points, especially in subject lines. These are similar to using caps lock—you’re trying too hard to grab attention. Craft a creative and eye-catching subject line, and you won’t have to make up for it with extras.

You’re using attachments

Using attachments in your emails make spam filters believe that you are spamming your audience. Instead, try using links as a great alternative!

Low open rates

Receiving email domains can identity when people are not opening your emails. If you have low open-rates, then you have the potential to be spamming people. An averagely successful email campaign will sit around a 15-25% open rate (try to aim for around 18% to be successful). Constantly monitor your open-rates, and if they are fairly low, alter your content.

Too promotional

Being too promotional will get you flagged for spam fairly quick. Don’t email people telling them your products are 90% off right now because, first of all, they probably aren’t, and second, you’ll get flagged as spam very quickly. These are regular, everyday people you are emailing, so try being more casual and conversational, as if you’re speaking to them in person.

Don’t be alarmed, we’re about to get technical.

There is more to spam then colored text and caps lock. Your email address needs to be supported by the domain through SPF records and DKIM records.

What is that, you ask?  

SPF Records

A Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication standard developed by AOL that compares the email sender’s actual IP address to a list of IP addresses authorized to send mail from that domain. The IP list is published in the domain’s DNS record.

The receiving domain looks at your SPF records and checks if you have permission to send emails from your domain, and if you do not, this can cause issues in email delivery, mark it as spam, or flag it. You can tackle this issue by clicking the link to set up your SPF record with SendGrid!

DKIM Records

A Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) record will help you protect your domain from spamming and phishing. DKIM will validate a domain name associated with a message, proving your authentication.  

DKIM records and SPF records work together to allow your domain to send emails problem-free. Having them both, rather than just one of them, will increase your delivery rates and lower your chances of being flagged as spam.

Click here to create your DKIM record!


#10 Track Your Performance

Accountability is key. Analyzing your data will help in determining the success of your campaigns. Your open-rate will help to analyze your subject line effectiveness, and your click-to-open rate will determine the effectiveness of your content.

Open-rate→ Percentage of people who opened the email out of the total number of recipients

Click-to-open rate→ Percentage of people who clicked on a link in the email out of the recipients who opened the email.

Keep an eye on specific accounts that are currently on the campaign. Track statistics for each individual email, including number delivered, sent, and on deck (the number of prospects to receive that email next).

The click-through rate isn’t the best indicator of your campaign performance. By using click-to-open rate, you are seeing out of all the people who opened your email, who wanted to click-through and read more. The reason click-through rate isn’t as effective, is because it calculates a click percentage based on all of the people you sent the email to, not just the ones who opened it. This means that people who never even opened your email or saw it in their inbox, would be included in that metric.

If you are measuring who clicked-through, you’re going to want to only look at who actually opened it, as that is a more accurate metric to analyze the content of your email.


Whether you are a new agency or you simply need an email refresher, this checklist is a great guide to a successful email campaign. Using this checklist will save you from wasting your time crafting mediocre emails when you could be focused on the growth of your business!

About the Author

Maddi is a former Content Marketing Intern at Vendasta. She spends her days learning the in's and out's of blog writing and and drinking copious amounts of coffee. When she's not blogging you'll find her bullet journaling or planning the details of her next travel destination.

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